The value of architecture artifacts

Medical Technology, Healthcare & Government IT

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As business or technology architects we all create tons of artifacts — documents, diagrams, whiteboard scribbles, and presentations. The question I and a other architects were musing about this week was “what is the value of all this stuff we create?” How much of this stuff is shelfware and how much is truly useful? Some of us think that the federal acquisition process demands it but the content is not accurate and might even be irrelevant.

One of the discussion members said that, from a programmatic perspective, architecture artifacts can, if done appropriately: (1) be of very high value in communicating with oversight officials (and that brings funding), and (2) bridge programs for interoperability.

I tend to think that most of the artifacts we generate are for helping ourselves understand what we’re doing and convey our principles, concepts, designs, and plans for others to better understand what we think we know. Ultimately, even if it’s shelfware it seems that all architecture artifacts have some value — even if it’s just historical value. The key is that we don’t create artifacts for the sake of those artifacts but for the sake of increasing communications.

What are your thoughts on architecture artifacts? What rules do you use to create “just the right amount?”

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